“Fusion, inner unity, is obtained by means of ‘friction,’ by the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in man. If a man lives without inner struggle, if everything happens in him without opposition, if he goes wherever he is drawn or wherever the wind blows, he will remain such as he is. But if a struggle begins in him, and particularly if there is a definite line in this struggle, then, gradually, permanent traits begin to form themselves, he begins to ‘crystallise.’ But crystallisation is possible on a right foundation and it is possible on a wrong foundation. ‘Friction,’ the struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ can easily take place on a wrong foundation. For instance, a fanatical belief in some or other idea, or the ‘fear of sin,’ can evoke a terribly intense struggle between ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ and a man may crystallise on these foundations. But this would be a wrong, incomplete crystallisation. Such a man will not possess the possibility of further development. In order to make further development possible he must be melted down again, and this can be accomplished only through terrible suffering.” ~ George Gurdjieff
Will is a very useful thing to develop. If you don’t have will you are like a fish, floating down river, drifting on currents, moving through life by a series of accidents. Will is like the salmon swimming upriver, leaping up waterfalls. Can you imagine how much force must be generated over a fairly long period to do such a thing?
I first really discovered the will of which I am speaking some years ago when I was a swimming across a lake to an island. On the way to the island I had to stop and float a few times from tiredness but eventually I reached the shore.
I explored the island for a while then before swimming back I sat before the water and meditated a little before going into the lake. I managed to swim full stroke the whole way across without stopping.
Though I felt tired at a point I pushed through it just by sheer will and the tiredness gave way, it is like you have to gather force to get into the stream of it but once you are in it becomes much easier. The beginning is the hardest part.
You are in control of your body and it can be pushed to extraordinary limits if it has to be. That thing which is in control and which can push beyond your tiredness and the voice in your mind telling you to stop is will. And in relation to inner work, especially in the beginning before one learns true relaxation, will is needed in order for us to sit for long periods in order to break down patterns, bring the mind to stillness and connect with the being.
Every part of us will want to wander in the beginning. Because that is what it is used to doing.
It is will which has the power to override these autonomous impulses and forces.
It is will which allows us to consciously exist and create. To choose and follow that which is the highest and best in us.
Also it is will which will snap us back to presence when our attention wanders from the moment.
And is will which will give us the strength to overcome negative thought patterns or indeed any thought patterns other than that which is useful and reflective.
It is kind of like we have been bent out of shape by all the wrong information and conditionings which have been fed into us unconsciously and will is the force that will reshape us and hold the position until our new shape becomes permanent.
This makes me think of yoga – a great way to develop will and connection to the being and body and breath. Doing yoga outside next to rivers, in forests, up mountains, anywhere. Its beautiful. I don’t know why. Try it if you haven’t. It tunes everything up somehow and puts it in its right place. Especially when combined with proper, deep breathing. Like anything it can’t really be explained and must be tried to be understood.
Will need not be applied in a kind of rigid and tight way, think more along the lines of a Tai Chi master, moving with energy. What is the most efficient way to move with energy? Have you ever tried to lift someone who is completely relaxed? It is almost impossible. It is the same with will, you can kind of lean into it. It need not be rigidly forced. I hope you are following this.
There are many ways to develop will. One way I often use is when I have an itch I try to relax completely and not scratch it, it is quite difficult. Exercising generates will, sheer willpower itself generates will. As in if one overcomes an addiction to a substance or a person or a thing or whatever it is. This in itself requires a lot of will.
Will is basically a pushing against the tide of autonomous forces, pressures and volitions within us and without us. Therefore it is how we become stronger and stronger in the face of these things and are more and more able to hold our center and push beyond comfort zones, ruts, negative states, illness, defeatism, laziness and the list goes on… The direction which requires will to go there is the direction of growth.
It is another example of friction generating being. Will and being relate in the way that will allows the generation of more being, more presence, more strength to hold yourself and move in the world gracefully.
There are of course more subtleties of this to be unraveled by yourselves. I am merely pointing towards a few things and hoping that the rest is mapping itself out within you in its own unique way so that your own particular wisdom can bloom.
The pinnacle of will is the will that is relaxed and leaning into, harnessing and channeling force rather than generating it from the body alone. It is like water, it flows on while that which is rigid will expend its energy quickly. Figure out how it works for you. We all have a unique way of moving, a unique way of being.
Experiment and come to know your body. As I said, yoga is great for this, also knowing how to relax is helpful as often knowing the opposite of something is helpful in order to know the thing itself. Opposites are really different degrees of the same thing if you can bend your mind around that.
I will write about relaxation next.